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Design And Construction Of A Rapid Prototyping Machine: A Breakdown Of The Machine Subsystems Used To Learn Multidisciplinary Engineering Skills

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2009 Annual Conference & Exposition


Austin, Texas

Publication Date

June 14, 2009

Start Date

June 14, 2009

End Date

June 17, 2009



Conference Session

Multidisciplinary and Project-based Experiences in Manufacturing

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Page Count


Page Numbers

14.407.1 - 14.407.9



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Paper Authors


David Culler Oregon Institute of Technology

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Dr. Culler has more than 20 years experience in CAM systems and is currently an Associate Professor at the Oregon Institute of Technology in Klamath Falls, OR. He has worked with Sandia National Laboratories, the Army Research Organization and most recently spent 4 years teaching at the Costa Rica Institute of Technology. He has published some of his work in the RCIM journal and at the 2004 Frontiers in Engineering Education Conference in Savannah GA.

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Noah Anderson Oregon Institute of Technology

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Noah Anderson is a junior Mechanical Engineering student at OIT with interests in CNC, Research & Development, Rapid Prototyping (RP) and robotics.

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Stanley Ames Oregon Institute of Technology

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Stan Ames is a junior Mechanical Engineering student with interests in Robotics, Plastics, automation and software development.

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

Design and Construction of a Rapid Prototyping Machine: A Breakdown of the Machine Sub-Systems Used to Learn Multi-Disciplinary Engineering Skills


Described by local professors and students as a “semester project on steroids”, students at the Oregon Institute of Technology set the lofty goal of designing and constructing a Rapid Prototyping (RP) machine based on an international community of “Rep-Rappers” (Replicating RP Machines) that was started at the University of Bathe, England [1]. The idea is based on building machines that can reproduce almost all of the components to make copies of themselves using the RP process, and through collaboration with other groups, implement improvements to the previous generation of machines. By looking at the machine in terms of subsystems, multiple engineering strategies and tools were employed to complete the project. The students also had to consult with experts from other departments, local industry and the internet to gather information and resolve issues that came up during the six month period. The interest and excitement expressed by other students and the impressive display of skills demonstrated by the participants has created a buzz around the college, especially considering that a commercial (RP) machine was recently purchased for more than $24K. Challenging problems were faced by the team, including software bugs, parts that required CNC machining and electronics / software integration. As a result of the work done, the group has been approached about making machines for local high schools and participating in international collaboration projects. The machine is currently being enhanced to incorporate an improved electronics package and a G code based programming capability that will provide better reliability and control of the system.


The Oregon Institute of Technology (OIT) has a reputation of graduating engineers that are strong in applying the theory learned in the classroom through hands-on design/build projects. During the 2008 school year, sophomore students Stanley Ames and Noah Anderson expressed an interest in designing and building an inexpensive Rapid Prototyping (RP) machine from scratch by using a combination of components and electronics ordered from the internet, a shareware software available through the RepRap foundation and materials that were scavenged, donated or discounted by other departments and local suppliers. Taking a systems approach, the machine was broken down into mechanical, electrical and software sub-systems. This allowed the team to acquire all of the necessary resources and, by using university laboratory facilities (including test equipment, machine tools, welders and electronics equipment) build and troubleshoot their design.

Many university students do not have the opportunity to participate in such involved projects as building a rapid prototyping machine because of limited resources and lack of equipment. Fortunately, OIT maintains a very complete industrial fabrication facility. The machine shop has lathes, mills, CNC (computer numerically controlled) machines, and about every tool that is needed to get the job done. The welding shop is one of the most state of the art shops in Oregon with machines to accomplish just about any type of welding or cutting process. Another

Culler, D., & Anderson, N., & Ames, S. (2009, June), Design And Construction Of A Rapid Prototyping Machine: A Breakdown Of The Machine Subsystems Used To Learn Multidisciplinary Engineering Skills Paper presented at 2009 Annual Conference & Exposition, Austin, Texas. 10.18260/1-2--5752

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